With 22km, the 4th stage between Almograve and Zambujeira do Mar is one of the longest on the fishermen’s trail and Rota Vicentina. But don’t be scared, it’s also one of the most spectacular, and with some pleasant surprises in between.
The fishermen’s trail goes from São Torpes to Lagos, a total of about 230km, almost always beside the coast. There are 13 stages along dunes, cliffs, beaches, connecting beautiful Alentejo and Algarve coastal villages. One of the advantages of this route is that it can be done entirely, partially, or just one day, with relative ease.
In this article, we will focus on stage 4, which goes from Almograve to Zambujeira do Mar, two of the best-known villages in the southeast of Alentejo. Despite being long, it is not one of the hardest days, as we have relatively few km of sand walking, it is not technical, and it does not have big climbs and descents.
In addition to describing the entire route and showing the highlights of this walk, we will also explain all the logistics, including what to take, how to go, when to go, where to eat, etc. If you want to do several days, we suggest that you also read our general article on the fishermen’s trail.
Fishermen’s Trail – Almograve a Zambujeira do Mar
- Name: Fishermen’s trail, stage 4
- Start: Almograve
- Finish: Zambujeira do Mar
- Distance: 22 km
- Time – 7 hours
- Difficulty – moderate
- Max/min altitude: 80/0 meters
- Altitude: gain 200 meters.
- Type – linear
- Marking (1-5) – 5, excellent
- Highlights: Almograve beach, Sardão Cape, Tonel beach, Porto das Barcas, Zambujeira do Mar
- Cyclable: No
Our experience on the trail
This stage of the fishermen’s trail starts in the center of Almograve and heads to the magnificent Almograve beach. As tempting as it may be, it is not advisable to go to the beach at the beginning of the day, as this is a very long day. We also advise you to leave early, especially in summer, to do as much walking as possible before the sun rises.
In Almograve, there are several options for breakfast and a minimarket to stock up, but note that at this stage, we have 2 locations along the way where there are cafes and restaurants. In Cavaleiro we have a good café where we can have a snack (snack-bar Adélia), and in Porto das Barcas we have the restaurant “O Sacas,” where we ate wonderfully.
From Almograve beach, follow a dirt path for almost 2km, always parallel to the sea line, until you reach the fishing port of Lapa das Pombas. From here, the easy hike ends, and the toil begins, as we are going to enter dune areas and with an undulating way. But don’t worry, because, despite the distance, it’s not as difficult as other days of the fishermen’s trail.
Still, this is the hardest part of this fourth stage; we will walk in areas with some sand, others on dirt through fragrant pine forests. It’s not technical, nor does it have steep climbs, but it’s undulating. Anyway, these 6 – 7 km until you reach Cavaleiro are some of the most beautiful parts of the whole fisherman’s trail. Here we find red dunes that seem to have come straight from Africa, storks nesting on the cliffs, imposing cliffs, and during the spring, immense vegetation and flowers of all colors and shapes.
In Cavaleiro, we find our first stopover. As we are roughly halfway through the hike, it is the ideal place to rest for a while. Just as we enter the village, there is a small snack bar where you can have a second breakfast, and further on in the village there is also a restaurant if you really want to have lunch.
Since we suggested leaving very early, it is possible that you will arrive in Cavaleiro in the morning, so our suggestion is to have a snack at the snack bar, rest for a few minutes, and continue our way. Later, you will arrive at Sacas just in time for lunch, if you don’t stop for too long.
Cavaleiro is right next to Cabo Sardão, so it’s only a few minutes to get there. The Cabo Sardão area is beautiful, with imposing cliffs and an incredible natural landscape. It is also an excellent place for bird watching.
After Cabo Sardão, the road to Porto das Barcas constantly follows dirt tracks, with a beautiful landscape that becomes repetitive. The path goes almost straight, completely flat, and on dirt and gravel for about 6km. It’s beautiful but definitely not as interesting as the early part of the day. But before arriving at Porto das Barcas we have one more surprise, Tonel beach.
Tonel beach is impressive, both for the huge cliffs surrounding it and the beautiful clear water and white sand. More impressive is that although it seems impossible at first glance, it is possible to descend carefully with the help of ropes. If you are adventurous and not afraid of heights…
After Tonel beach, we are practically at the ferry port, but to get there, we have to descend a very steep gorge; fortunately, there are stairs, walkways, and even a small wooden bridge. Restaurant “O Sacas” is halfway up to Porto das Barcas and we guarantee that the time we spent on the terrace having lunch felt like heaven on earth. Both for the quality of the food and the location. The fact that we the tired from walking almost 20km and really hungry may have helped too… 🙂
From Porto das Barcas to Zambujeira do Mar it is only 4 km, always beside the road. There is a wooden walkway which makes the walk more pleasant than you would expect. Furthermore, halfway to Zambujeira there is a small exit into other walkways that go through the woods, to a viewpoint and a bird watching tower. From there you can observe lots of birds.
Before reaching Zambujeira, the trail leaves the road again and goes around the cliffs, beaches, and viewpoints in the northern part of Zambujeira. If you’re too tired, you can go straight to the village, but you’ll miss some sensational scenery.
Almograve is a small village very popular in summer due to its fabulous main beach. It is an excellent option for those who enjoy beach holidays and relaxation, but also for those who enjoy hiking because, in addition to the aforementioned trail, there are several other options. In recent years, Almograve (and other villages in the region) have been receiving huge numbers of Nepalese and Indian immigrants to work on the region’s many farms and greenhouses. So don’t be surprised if you see them in the early morning and late afternoon for a walk or on their way to work.
Although it is much smaller than VN Milfontes and even Zambujeira do Mar, it has several restaurants, cafes, and mini markets where you can get supplies. As the village is small, they are easy to find. Another positive point is that the mini-markets also operate as cafes and open very early, at 6:00 am, so that you can have breakfast and supply for the trail at once.
Where to stay at Almograve?
Due to its popularity, there are several accommodation options in Almograve, so you should have no issues finding a place to stay. When we did this trail, we stayed at Casa das Andorinhas, and we found it to be a good low-cost option, but with plenty of comforts. It is in the center of Almograve and close to everything you need. Click here to see more information.
Where to Eat at Almograve?
There are several restaurants in Almograve, so you’ll have no problem finding where to eat. The best-known restaurants are perhaps Torralta and Lavrador, where you can enjoy typical Portuguese and Alentejo dishes.
However, when we did the trail, we decided to go to Mar Azul, a Nepalese/Indian restaurant taking advantage of the new reality of this region. We like this kind of cuisine a lot, but we had never tasted Nepali it was delightful, and the food quality is outstanding.
About Zambujeira do Mar
The legendary Zambujeira do Mar is one of the best-known coastal towns in Alentejo and even in Portugal. It is a place where the naturalness of the beaches and cliffs unites with the human constructions with an unusual harmony. Therefore, it is a great destination in itself and an excellent final destination for this trail.
If you are doing several stages of the fishermen’s trail, it is also a good place to take a day of rest and enjoy the beautiful landscapes and beaches in the surroundings. As the resort that it is, there are plenty of restaurants, cafes, and accommodation options.
Several mini markets and cafes open very early, so you’ll have no problem eating breakfast early and buying groceries for the following days.
Where to stay in Zambujeira do Mar
As you would expect, Zambujeira has plenty of accommodation options, especially hostels and local accommodation. For those making the fishermen’s trail, the ideal is to stay right in the center so that you don’t have to add even more paths to the trail.
We stayed at Nature Hostel, and it’s a good option because it’s very comfortable, we have access to the kitchen and fridge, and it’s right in the center of Zambujeira, close to the beach and the trail. See more information by clicking here.
Where to eat in Zambujeira do Mar
There is no lack of places to eat in this village, from cafes and snack bars to restaurants. If you want a meal with more substance, the place to go is undoubtedly the Costa Alentejana, as it is the best and well-known restaurant in the village. On the other hand, if you want to have a drink and something light, and see a wonderful sunset, Rita Restaurant, facing the sea, has breathtaking views.
Best time of year to take the fishermen’s trail
The best time of year to hike the fishermen’s trail is spring, particularly in April/May. Alternatively, the end of summer and the beginning of autumn will also be excellent, especially as the sea will have much more pleasant temperatures and this stage has many inviting beaches.
However, between Spring and Autumn, we prefer spring mainly because the vegetation is at its prettiest, with wildflowers everywhere. In both periods, the days will be long and with more pleasant temperatures for long walks.
In summer, we have a heat problem, and it really is a problem. Note that most of the walk is done in the sun, with no leftovers along the way or great chances of escaping the sun as the vegetation is mostly undergrowth. On the other hand, we have the advantage that the seawater is also warmer.
During winter, cold, rain, and wind can make the trail very rough and less pleasant. However, we never did at this point.
Who can make the trail?
This is a trek for people with some physical resistance, used to hiking, and without any mobility problems. Age should not be a factor, but physical ability should be. We advise against doing it with small children, as it would be a little too hard, but teenagers and maybe pre-teens used to exercise can do this step.
Note that sometimes the route is done along cliffs and canyons, so people afraid of heights or vertigo may have problems in certain parts.
What to bring?
This trail is one of the steps of a larger trail, the fishermen’s trail. It is important to differentiate whether you are going to do just this step or several days. The general rule of thumb is never to hike with more than 10% of our weight, but if you’re taking a journey of several days, we need to pay special attention to what to take as the less weight, the better.
If you decide to take several days, we advise you to see this article about the fishermen’s trail. If you are going to take just this stage between Porto Covo and Vila Nova de Milfontes, we suggest you take:
- Lots of water (minimum 2l per person) – always carry water for the whole day as you never know if something might happen.
- Snacks to eat during the day. There are 2 good opportunities to have a snack and lunch at this stage, but always take something to eat.
- Comfortable walking shoes – Go for a walk in walking or running shoes. We wear running shoes, but some people suggest walking shoes. Sneakers have the disadvantage of needing to remove the sand regularly, but the advantage of being much cooler; In any case, don’t wear your slippers for the walks, it’s a long time, and it will become uncomfortable.
- Light and comfortable clothing;
- Don’t forget to bring at least one warmer, long sleeve shirt or a hoodie because in the morning it can be much colder than you expect, especially outside of summer.
- Swimwear, sunglasses, hat, and sunscreen, for obvious reasons
- Camera and mobile phone as there are many opportunities to take beautiful photos. The mobile phone also to be used as GPS.
- Backpack to carry all this;
As always, please don’t trash. Bring everything you take with you.
For those who will be traveling for several days, it is important to note that transfer companies take your bags to your destination. So if you want to carry even less weight, this might be a good idea. See here.